November 18 – 23, 2014
Book Presentation: Committee of One

Patricia Holt CoverFirst presentation and book signing
by author Patricia Martin Holt
Tuesday, November 18, 7 pm
Madison Central Library, Room 301
201 W Mifflin St, Madison, WI [Map]

The Wisconsin Book Festival, in partnership with the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, presents Patricia Holt to discuss her book Committee of One. Free and open to the public.

Second presentation and book signing
by author Patricia Martin Holt
Sunday, November 23, 12:45 pm – 1:45pm
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Drive
Madison, WI [Map]

Sponsored by the First Unitarian Society and the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. Free and open to the public.

“When I married a retired hydrologist, I had no idea how our travels to the Middle East would change my perspective. Initially interested in the fine crafts of the area, I was led to Leila Wahbeh. The day I met her was the day my life changed forever.

Her story unfolds with her family’s flight from Jerusalem to Egypt in 1947 to avoid the terrors of the war with Israel, and their return four years later to find they had lost everything. Despite suffering terrible hardships and deprivations, Leila finishes school and marries a doctor. All goes well until the 1967 War. Her husband, because he renders aid to war victims, is deported, leaving Leila and their four children in Jerusalem as pawns for his good behavior and hers. Despite the probability of her own imprisonment, with circumstances weighed against her, she continues her crusade for the poor.

Leila moves mountains of red tape in her efforts to transform the helpless into the helpful. In Committee of One, you’ll meet, as I did during our stays, some of the people whose dignity and pride she has single-handedly restored: Um Rafila, born in a cave as her mother fled her village in 1948; Um X who can’t read or write but whose ten children will graduate from college; Um Ghassan, whose piecework provides the medical care needed by her dying pre-school daughter; and Mustafa, a young engineer, who is jailed for preventing renewed garbage dumping at the first cleared site for Leila’s new sanitation center in Baqa’a Camp. With unflagging energy and donations of money and materials, Leila helps her people to become self-sufficient. One family survives, then 100. As those 100 educated families reach out to hundreds more, thousands of families cross the bridges built by a Committee of One.”

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Israel bans Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert from Gaza

BBC News, 14 November 2014

Dr Mads Gilbert at work in Gaza in 2009Dr Gilbert, pictured here in 2009, has been a frequent visitor to Gaza. (Getty Images)

A Norwegian doctor has been permanently banned from entering the Gaza Strip by the Israeli government.

Dr Mads Gilbert says he was stopped trying to cross into Gaza in October. He called the move “totally unacceptable”.

Israel cited security reasons for imposing the ban.

Dr Gilbert has treated patients in Gaza for more than a decade. He worked at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City during the 50-day summer conflict.

He told the BBC he had never broken any Israeli rules during his spells working in Gaza.

But he suggested that his open reporting of the medical situation in the territory had angered the Israeli authorities.

“The fundamental reason for the ill health of the population in Gaza is of course the siege and the bombing,” he said.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, described Dr Gilbert as a “Jekyll and Hyde” figure, hiding behind a cloak of being a humanitarian doctor.

He said an investigation was under way into Dr Gilbert and that the decision would be reviewed.

The Norwegian foreign ministry has said it will challenge the ban.

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November 7-8, 2014
Voices for Peace and Justice in Palestine

Searching for Peace
The Capital City Hues
October 30, 2014

From Barbara Olson and The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project:

Do you feel baffled and disturbed by what the major media variously describe as "an age-old religious conflict" or "the endless cycle of violence" between Israel and Palestine? Did the pictures of the terrible bloodshed, destruction and suffering in Gaza last summer leave you wondering what’s really going on there and what role our government is playing and why?

Do you wish that there could be a peaceful and just solution for all the people of the region? Do you wonder what you could do to help?

You have a chance to explore these and many other questions at the upcoming Voices for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land conference, Friday and Saturday, November 7 and 8 at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison.

The conference will examine the role of the U.S. in the Palestine/Israel conflict, featuring the stories, political viewpoints and theological perspectives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and secular scholars, writers and activists concerned with justice and peace for all people of the region. It is designed to educate, inspire and make connections and to galvanize advocacy for peaceful, just and creative solutions.

Distinguished plenary speakers and workshop leaders from the US and Palestine will address the current situation on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, and explore the impacts of US foreign policy, the media and religion on the region’s struggle for justice.

Participants will have a chance to interact with others about relevant historical realities, discuss timely updates regarding facts on the ground, and explore creative responses such as fact-finding and witness tours, campus and church organizing, community education and humanitarian assistance, and peaceful strategies for change like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and public policy advocacy.

The conference also features two showings of the film Where Should the Birds Fly?, the first film about Gaza made by Palestinians living under Israel’s siege of this tiny enclave. The film itself breaks the blockade, since Gazans have never had the opportunity to make a full length, professional documentary of their reality. Film maker Fida Qishta, born and raised in Rafah, Gaza, will lead discussions of her film.

Friday night features a Palestinian dinner for paid conference participants. At 7:30 there will be a free cultural evening open to the public, with performances by Palestinian poet and spoken word artist Remi Kanazi and the Milwaukee Students for Justice in Palestine Debke folk dance troupe.

A beautiful traveling poster exhibit called “Boycott: The Art of Economic Activism” will be on display during the conference.  Created by the American Friends Service Committee, the exhibit features 59 posters from over 20 boycotts, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, United Farm Workers grape and lettuce boycotts, divestment from Apartheid South Africa, anti-sweatshop boycotts, the Palestinian call for BDS, and many others. It can be seen before the conference at The Crossing, 1127 University Avenue, with an opening program at 2 pm on Saturday, Nov. 1 and running through Thursday, Nov. 6.

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Nov 7-8, 2014
Friends of Sabeel of North America (FOSNA) Conference

The Madison Times, October 22, 2014

In a year when enduring images have been burned into our collective memories of the great loss of life and indescribable destruction that occurred in the Gaza a few short months ago, a landmark national conference is coming to Madison on Nov. 7-8 that seeks to chart the path to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

“Voices for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land,” is a two-day conference occurring at the UW-Madison’s Pyle Center that will examine the role of the United States in Palestine/Israel, at an event where participants can listen to voices not often heard in the quest for peace and justice in the Holy Land. Local organizers describe this as an opportunity to hear the stories and the political and theological perspectives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and secular writers and activists concerned with justice and peace in Palestine/Israel.

The conference is sponsored on a national basis by the Friends of Sabeel of North America (FOSNA), as well as a variety of locally-based groups drawn from a diversity of social justice and religious traditions, and the UW-Madison chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Distinguished plenary speakers from the US and Israel/Palestine will address the current situation on the ground in Gaza, in the West Bank, and for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and will explore the impact of US foreign policy, the media, and religion on the region’s struggle for justice.

The goal of the conference, organizers say, is to educate, inspire, and make connections to galvanize advocacy for justice in Palestine-Israel. In this sense, the gathering is seen as a place where the seeds of future action can be planted, and as the conference ends, the real work will be just beginning.

A Friday evening Palestinian Cultural Program is free and open to the public, and features Remi Kanazi, a spoken word artist, writer and activist, Also performing are the Milwaukee Students for Justice in Palestine Dance Troupe, featuring Debke folk dancing.

Journalist John Pilger writes,”Remi Kanazi’s poetry, full of defiance and longing, allows us to feel the power and pain of Palestine’s struggle.” Novelist John Berger adds, “You want to hear a voice which refuses to be silenced, and only such voices carry the deep truth about what’s happening these days… in Gaza or Iraq or East Jerusalem.”

The conference also features a free traveling 59-poster exhibition called “Boycott: The Art of Economic Activism”. It highlights more than 20 historical boycott movements from the 1950s to the present including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, United Farm Workers’ grape and lettuce boycott, divestment from South Africa to protest Apartheid, boycotts of corporations using sweatshops, the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and many others.

The conference begins at 12:30 pm on Friday, November 7th, and runs through 5pm on Saturday, November 8th. Friday’s events include a Palestinian dinner. Cost of the conference is $85 for both days, or $50 for a single day. Student rate is $25. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged, and is required by Nov. 3 for Friday’s dinner.

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Oct 1 – Nov 26, 2014
Book group: Ali Abunimah’s The Battle for Justice in Palestine

Biweekly Wednesdays,
October 1 – November 26
“Palestine Reading Group”
The Lakefront on Langdon,
Memorial Union, UW-Madison [Map]
7 to 8:30 pm

The International Socialist Organization and Students for Justice in Palestine-Madison are hosting a discussion group on Ali Abunimah’s new book The Battle for Justice in Palestine. The first meeting will discuss the Preface and Chapter 1 (pg xi – pg 20). We will continue to meet biweekly Wednesdays @ 7pm until we finish the book.

  • “Efforts to achieve a “two-state solution” have finally collapsed; the struggle for justice in Palestine is at a crossroads. As Israel and its advocates lurch toward greater extremism, many ask where the struggle is headed. This book offers a clear analysis of this crossroads moment and looks forward with urgency down the path to a more hopeful future.”
    Ali Abunimah, The Battle for Justice in Palestine
  • “This is the best book on Palestine in the last decade. No existing book presents the staggering details and sophistication of analysis that Abunimah’s book offers.”
    Joseph Massad, Columbia University
  • “In The Battle for Justice in Palestine it is the voice of Ali Abunimah, fierce, wise – a warrior for justice and peace – someone whose large heart, one senses, beyond his calm, is constantly on fire. A pragmatist but also a poet. This is the book to read to understand the present bizarre and ongoing complexity of the Palestine/Israel tragedy.”
    Alice Walker
  • “With incisive style and scrupulous attention to documentation and detail, Ali Abunimah’s new book offers a complex portrait, from every angle, of the Palestinian struggle for justice today.”
    Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director, Jewish Voice for Peace
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